“Despite discriminations being faced,” Dr. Abdulwahab Meddeb urged Muslims to refrain from reacting violently, and instead “continue showing yourselves as Muslims: good and patient persons.”
Islam describes the “character of a Muslim” as a person who obeys what is good and avoids what is forbidden.
Quite a number of Moro in predominantly non-Muslim areas have been complaining of being discriminated against in job employments, denied of credit in appliance stores, becoming immediate suspects in terrorist incidents and facing illegal detention.
Meddeb said that Islam gained a bad image especially after the Sept. 11, 2001 attack of the World Trade Center in New York City.
Meddeb was tapped by the University of the Philippines-Institute of Islamic Studies (UP-IIS) as a resource person for a lecture series in four universities in the Philippines, including UP-Diliman, Mindanao State University-GenSan, and University of Southern Mindanao.
The French Muslim scholar is a Tunisian-born poet, novelist and a famous lecturer on “Islam and Tolerance” in France. He has already written 20 books and directs the “Culture of Islam” radio program in his country.
“If you read Suratul Al Maida, you will learn that we can merge and live with the Christians and the People of the Book (Jews),” Meddeb told the audience comprised of more than 200 Muslim students, Madaris teachers, young professionals, members of the academe and Muslim elders in the audio-video room of MSU-GenSan on Feb. 16.
“I suggest, you talk with them (non-Muslims) in a forum, dialogue or any gathering and find ways where you agree,” he said.
“Having dialogues with other religions is a nice initiative that fosters harmony,” he stressed.
He related how he reacted with the Danish caricature that besmirched the image of the Holy Prophet. “I talked with non-Muslims and explained to them that Prophet Mohamad is not what the caricature depicts,” he said. “Thus, we avoided war or clashes.”
Meddeb also noted that some Muslims would rather talk about their groups and tribes ignoring other Muslims.
The visiting scholar was accompanied by the French ambassador to the Philippines, Gerard Chesnel, who supported the lecture series.
Chesnel is looking forward to find ways on how their embassy can assist some Muslim students in availing scholarship opportunities in France.
Dr. Anzari Ali, a faculty of MSU-GenSan and a discussant during the lecture, suggested to the audience to show kindness to the non-Muslims and adopting the “principles of moderation,” which is “practicing self-discipline and oppressing desire and anger.”
Lawyer Adurahman T. Canacan, chancellor of MSU-GenSan, said that Mindanao State University, where Muslim and Christian students co-exist, shows the presence of moderation among Muslims and tolerance with other faiths.
Sheikh Salih D. Musa, World Assembly of Muslim Youth country director, also a discussant, reiterated the practice of Sabar (patience) and urged the Muslim youth to be active in promoting peace and understanding. He added that young as they are, “the youth can partake in any peace building efforts in societies.” (Gandhi C. Kinjiyo / MindaNews)